Attorney General urges consumers to place free security freeze, monitor credit reports
A recent report by Sony Playstation estimates that more than 780,000 North Carolina residents’ personal information may have been compromised as a result of a hacking incident, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“With just a few key pieces of information, an identity thief can pretend to be you and ruin your good name and credit,” said Cooper. “If you learn that your information may be in the wrong hands, act fast to protect yourself.”
With this latest security breach, 778 breaches involving the personal information of millions of people have been reported to Cooper’s office thanks to state laws designed to protect consumers from identity theft. A security breach happens when data or records containing personal information such as Social Security Numbers or bank account numbers are lost, stolen or displayed.
Sony PlayStation was made aware of the hacking incident last week and determined that consumers’ names, addresses, email addresses, birthdates, PlayStation password and login information, and online identification was compromised. It is also possible that consumers’ credit card information was obtained by the hacker, as well as their profile data, purchase history, billing address, and security answers. If the primary account holder included dependents, then the dependents’ information would also be included.
The company says it has disabled its network and is rebuilding the system to enhance the security. Sony Playstation provided substitute notice under NC law by sending emails to North Carolina consumers affected and by posting the breach notice on their website, and alerting statewide media outlets.
Cooper recommends that people who’ve received a security breach notification alert the credit bureaus, consider getting free security freezes to prevent new accounts from being opened in their names, and continue checking their credit frequently. [See our security breach tips for more details, also available at www.ncdoj.gov]
North Carolinians can request free security freezes by visiting the three major credit bureaus’ secure websites and providing identifying information such as their Social Security Number, address and date of birth. Links to the credit bureaus’ websites are available at www.ncdoj.gov, along with detailed information about how to sign up for security freezes and how to lift one when you need to take out credit. Consumers can lift their security freezes online for free as well.
Consumers who don’t have access to the Internet can request and lift security freezes by mail or telephone for $3 per bureau. Freezes by mail or telephone are free to victims of identity theft and consumers over age 62.
Under North Carolina laws advocated by Cooper, state and local government as well as businesses must notify consumers if a security breach may have compromised their personal information. They must also report breaches to the Consumer Protection Division.
A total of 778 breaches that involved information about approximately 3.1 million North Carolina consumers have been reported since state laws on security breaches took effect. Businesses have been required to report security breaches since December 1, 2005, and state and local governments have been required to report breaches since October 1, 2006.
“Thanks to North Carolina’s strong laws, businesses and government must let you know if you’re the victim of a security breach so that you can move quickly to minimize any damage,” Cooper said.